Amid ongoing identity theft and privacy-related breaches, new research published by cybersecurity company, BullGuard, revealed substantial gaps between consumers’ privacy concerns and their actual behaviors.

The study shows 53% of Americans, 48% of Brits and 62% of Germans are concerned about privacy, but 74% of Americans, 80% of Brits, and 86% of Germans don’t use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) when accessing public Wi-Fi, with convenience trumping privacy and security risks in their rush to get online.

A VPN empowers consumers with a highly effective, easy way to safeguard themselves when using public Wi-Fi from their smartphone, tablet or laptop, and adds an extra layer of security and privacy when used on the home network.

Accessing users data by hacking public Wi-Fi

Two-thirds of all survey respondents stated they are most worried about their banking information being hacked and stolenUnbeknownst to most consumers, hackers can easily spoof and set up malicious open Wi-Fi networks that appear to be legitimate (e.g. ‘Free Airport Wi-Fi’), but in fact intercept and record all network traffic, including people’s intimate personal data, and allow fraudsters to steal usernames, passwords, credit card details, bank account information and more.

Alarmingly, approximately one in five Americans (19%) used a credit card while connected to public Wi-Fi, 17% of Brits performed online banking, and 14% of Germans accessed an insecure website – even though 53% of Americans, 48% of Brits and 62% of Germans believe their data is not secure while on a public Wi-Fi network and two-thirds of all survey respondents stated they are most worried about their banking information being hacked and stolen.

Ignoring risks of financial and identity theft

Consumers are playing Russian Roulette with their personal data and privacy, opting for convenience over safety when using public Wi-Fi,” said Paul Lipman, CEO of BullGuard.

The research findings clearly indicate that Americans, Brits, and Germans do not feel safe online, yet they are ignoring their fears and risking financial theft, identity theft, account fraud and more in their quest to use public Wi-Fi. Accessing public Wi-Fi without the use of a VPN is akin to driving your car without insurance – sooner or later you’re going to end up paying the price for being negligent.

Pros and cons of antivirus software

AV software prevents, detects and removes malware and helps protect users from other threats such as ransomwareThe research also revealed 48% of Americans, 62% of Brits and 69% of Germans are only using antivirus (AV) software to protect their online information on their home Wi-Fi.

AV software prevents, detects and removes malware and helps protect users from other threats such as ransomware, malicious URLs, phishing scams, botnet DDoS attacks and more, but it does not hide a consumer’s origin IP address or prevent others – including ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and government organizations – from monitoring a consumer’s online browsing activity, including what websites they visit, what they download or what services and applications they use.

Safeguarding online security and privacy

A disconnect currently exists in the minds of consumers between the benefits and differences of AV software and VPN. The research findings indicate a need to educate consumers that VPN is not simply a useful tool for streaming geo-locked content, but an integral component to safeguard their overall online security and privacy,” stated Lipman.

While antivirus software is essential for detecting and removing malware from your PC, smartphone and tablet devices, it offers no protection from having your personal data intercepted by a malicious hotspot or blocking your ISP from monitoring your online browsing activity.

Relying on ISP and browser for information security

Many individuals use no additional methods and rely solely on their ISP and browser to keep online information privateAdditionally, a significant number of individuals (19% of Americans, 12% of Brits and 7% of Germans, respectively) use no additional methods and rely solely on their ISP and browser to keep their online information private and secure. This despite results that show consumers believe the following entities are tracking their online activities:

  1. Search engines such as Google (56% Americans, 63% Brits and 71% Germans)
  2. Internet Browser (51% Americans, 57% Brits and 57% Germans)
  3. Internet Service Provider (53% Americans, 58% Brits and 44% Germans)
  4. Online retailers like Amazon (46% Americans, 54% Brits and 61% Germans)
  5. Social media platforms such as Facebook (55% Americans and 62% Brits)
  6. Messenger apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp (42% Americans and 51% Brits)
  7. Social media platforms and messengers, e.g. Facebook and WhatsApp (65% Germans)
  8. US government (52% Americans and 36% Brits)
  9. UK government (15% Americans and 55% Brits)
  10. German government (34% Germans)

The BullGuard-commissioned survey was conducted in August 2019 and queried a total of 5,000 adult consumers across the US, the UK, and Germany (2000 each in the US and UK, and 1000 in Germany).

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version Download PDF version

In case you missed it

Water Plant Attack Emphasizes Cyber’s Impact On Physical Security
Water Plant Attack Emphasizes Cyber’s Impact On Physical Security

At an Oldsmar, Fla., water treatment facility on Feb. 5, an operator watched a computer screen as someone remotely accessed the system monitoring the water supply and increased the amount of sodium hydroxide from 100 parts per million to 11,100 parts per million. The chemical, also known as lye, is used in small concentrations to control acidity in the water. In larger concentrations, the compound is poisonous – the same corrosive chemical used to eat away at clogged drains. The impact of cybersecurity attacks The incident is the latest example of how cybersecurity attacks can translate into real-world, physical security consequences – even deadly ones.Cybersecurity attacks on small municipal water systems have been a concern among security professionals for years. The computer system was set up to allow remote access only to authorized users. The source of the unauthorized access is unknown. However, the attacker was only in the system for 3 to 5 minutes, and an operator corrected the concentration back to 100 parts per million soon after. It would have taken a day or more for contaminated water to enter the system. In the end, the city’s water supply was not affected. There were other safeguards in place that would have prevented contaminated water from entering the city’s water supply, which serves around 15,000 residents. The remote access used for the attack was disabled pending an investigation by the FBI, Secret Service and Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. On Feb. 2, a compilation of breached usernames and passwords, known as COMB for “Compilation of Many Breaches,” was leaked online. COMB contains 3.2 billion unique email/password pairs. It was later discovered that the breach included the credentials for the Oldsmar water plant. Water plant attacks feared for years Cybersecurity attacks on small municipal water systems have been a concern among security professionals for years. Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted that the attempt to poison the water supply should be treated as a “matter of national security.” “The incident at the Oldsmar water treatment plant is a reminder that our nation’s critical infrastructure is continually at risk; not only from nation-state attackers, but also from malicious actors with unknown motives and goals,” comments Mieng Lim, VP of Product Management at Digital Defense Inc., a provider of vulnerability management and threat assessment solutions.The attack on Oldsmar’s water treatment system shows how critical national infrastructure is increasingly becoming a target for hackers as organizations bring systems online “Our dependency on critical infrastructure – power grids, utilities, water supplies, communications, financial services, emergency services, etc. – on a daily basis emphasizes the need to ensure the systems are defended against any adversary,” Mieng Lim adds. “Proactive security measures are crucial to safeguard critical infrastructure systems when perimeter defenses have been compromised or circumvented. We have to get back to the basics – re-evaluate and rebuild security protections from the ground up.” "This event reinforces the increasing need to authenticate not only users, but the devices and machine identities that are authorized to connect to an organization's network,” adds Chris Hickman, Chief Security Officer at digital identity security vendor Keyfactor. “If your only line of protection is user authentication, it will be compromised. It's not necessarily about who connects to the system, but what that user can access once they're inside. "If the network could have authenticated the validity of the device connecting to the network, the connection would have failed because hackers rarely have possession of authorized devices. This and other cases of hijacked user credentials can be limited or mitigated if devices are issued strong, crypto-derived, unique credentials like a digital certificate. In this case, it looks like the network had trust in the user credential but not in the validity of the device itself. Unfortunately, this kind of scenario is what can happen when zero trust is your end state, not your beginning point." “The attack on Oldsmar’s water treatment system shows how critical national infrastructure is increasingly becoming a target for hackers as organizations bring systems online for the first time as part of digital transformation projects,” says Gareth Williams, Vice President - Secure Communications & Information Systems, Thales UK. “While the move towards greater automation and connected switches and control systems brings unprecedented opportunities, it is not without risk, as anything that is brought online immediately becomes a target to be hacked.” Operational technology to mitigate attacks Williams advises organizations to approach Operational Technology as its own entity and put in place procedures that mitigate against the impact of an attack that could ultimately cost lives. This means understanding what is connected, who has access to it and what else might be at risk should that system be compromised, he says. “Once that is established, they can secure access through protocols like access management and fail-safe systems.”  “The cyberattack against the water supply in Oldsmar should come as a wakeup call,” says Saryu Nayyar, CEO, Gurucul.  “Cybersecurity professionals have been talking about infrastructure vulnerabilities for years, detailing the potential for attacks like this, and this is a near perfect example of what we have been warning about,” she says.  Although this attack was not successful, there is little doubt a skilled attacker could execute a similar infrastructure attack with more destructive results, says Nayyar. Organizations tasked with operating and protecting critical public infrastructure must assume the worst and take more serious measures to protect their environments, she advises. Fortunately, there were backup systems in place in Oldsmar. What could have been a tragedy instead became a cautionary tale. Both physical security and cybersecurity professionals should pay attention.

What Are The Positive And Negative Effects Of COVID-19 To Security?
What Are The Positive And Negative Effects Of COVID-19 To Security?

The COVID-19 global pandemic had a life-changing impact on all of us in 2020, including a multi-faceted jolt on the physical security industry. With the benefit of hindsight, we can now see more clearly the exact nature and extent of that impact. And it’s not over yet: The pandemic will continue to be top-of-mind in 2021. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What have been the positive and negative effects of Covid-19 on the physical security industry in 2020? What impact will it have on 2021?

Maximising Supermarket Safety With Real-time Surveillance Solutions
Maximising Supermarket Safety With Real-time Surveillance Solutions

Supermarket employees have been the hidden key workers of the past year, keeping shelves stocked and queues under control as panic buying gripped the nation. As a result of being expected to enforce face covering and social distancing regulations, they also been asked to act as de-facto security guards alongside their existing duties. This is problematic as many employees have never had to deal with this kind of responsibility before, let alone received any conflict de-escalation training. In order to maintain the safety and security of their staff retailers must take additional steps to uphold their duty of care, with the NPCC recently specifying that it is the responsibility of retailers ‘to manage entry to their stores and compliance with the law while customers are inside’. Supermarkets in particular need to be aware of this requirement, as the big four recently announced that their employees would now be challenging customers shopping in groups and those not wearing masks. Verbal abuse from the public Crime against retail employees has already been a major issue over the course of the pandemic, confirmed by research from the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers that found 90% of retail staff in the UK experienced verbal abuse last year. The Co-op has recently been vocal about the effects of the pandemic and lockdown-related frustrations on its employees.90% of retail staff in the UK experienced verbal abuse last year The supermarket reported a 140% increase in crime within its stores over the past year, with many of the 200,000 cases related to verbal and physical abuse experienced by employees. Jo Whitfield, Co-op Food chief executive, confirmed that the number of issues has already increased drastically as a result of staff enforcing COVID-secure guidelines. So, what steps must retailers take to ensure their duty of care remains intact as employees take on new enforcement responsibilities? Introducing real-time surveillance technology to support security guards and shop floor employees alike is vital. Bolstering front line defences Security guards posted at supermarket entrances are the first line of defense against shoppers determined to break the rules. However, they are now being pulled in multiple directions with queues to monitor and occupancy to manually keep track of, along with the usual security alarms to respond to. With one person usually posted at the entrance at any one time it’s simply impossible to have eyes everywhere, which is where automated video surveillance comes in. COVID-specific technologies, such as mask detection and occupancy management systems, are now the golden bullet to retail safety and security.Mask detection and occupancy management surveillance tools can automatically alert a shopper Mask detection and occupancy management surveillance tools can automatically alert a shopper whether or not they are allowed to enter the store on their approach to the door. The system surveys the person and a screen will automatically display different instructions depending on the situation: whether they must put a mask on before they enter, wait until capacity is low enough to enable social distancing or, if the previous criteria are fulfilled, that they are free to enter. COVID-secure safety This stand-off technology minimizes the need for contact between security personnel and shoppers, allowing security guards to complete their usual duties, safe in the knowledge that the store is being managed in a COVID-secure way. With a hands-off approach enabled by surveillance technology, the potential for tense confrontation is greatly diminished as customers will usually comply to the reminder shown to them and put on a mask or wait without further prompting from staff. With security personnel able to better focus their attention on the stubborn rule-breakers,It is crucial that retailers choose a solution embedded in real-time connectivity this responsibility will no longer land with staff on the shop floor who are often ill-equipped to deal with this situation. It is crucial that retailers choose a solution embedded in real-time connectivity that will allow all store entrances to be screened simultaneously. Nobody can be in multiple places at once, but this connectivity allows alerts to be streamed instantly to any connected device that can be monitored by just one employee, meaning they can review the alerts that require their attention without needing to be physically present or re-tasked away from their day-to-day duties. Instant reassurance with body worn tech As a customer-facing role, there can be no guarantee that shop workers will never experience a potentially violent confrontation with a customer, which is where the presence of live streaming body worn cameras can help. While they may not always be trained to de-escalate a risky situation, being able to discreetly call for assistance can provide the reassurance employees need to feel safe and supported at all times. If an employee asks a customer to put a mask on while they’re in the store or step back from another shopper and the situation turns abusive – verbally or physically – a live streaming-enabled body worn camera can be triggered to stream a live audio and video feed back to a central control room manned by trained security personnel.A live streaming-enabled body worn camera can be triggered This real-time footage gives security staff exceptional situational awareness, allowing them to fully assess the situation and decide on the best course of action to support the employee in distress, whether that is going to the scene to diffuse the situation or contacting the police in more serious circumstances. Bolstering front line security This goes one step further than record-only body worn cameras, the capabilities of which these next generation devices match and exceed. Record-only cameras are well-suited to provide after-the-fact evidence if a customer interaction turns sour, but they do little to provide reassurance to out of depth employees in the moment. The duty of care grocery retailers must provide to their employees has never been more important, with staff taking on new mask and social distancing enforcement responsibilities and managing interactions with frustrated customers. Bolstering front line security and giving staff extra reassurances with the introduction of real-time video surveillance technology is a crucial step for retailers striving to keep employees and shoppers safe during these challenging times.